I’ve yet to see the film but that hasn’t stopped me falling pretty heavily for Bradford Cox’s soundtrack album. The score to Teenage (based on the book of the same name by England’s Dreaming author, Jon Savage) is filled with buzzing, fizzing, lovely music – and as much as I’ve liked some of the work Cox has done with Deerhunter and as Atlas Sound it’s here that I can hear, more profoundly, the shapes he’s circling around, the traces of Stereolab (Snow On Cape), the beautiful recasting of the mood from Jack Nitzsche’s score for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (on the opening piece here, Natural Harp Monitor); a little touch of Decoder Ring here (New Prairie Blackout Pattern), a bit of his band’s sound there (Paprika Expose). But the two things that occasionally bother me about Deerhunter – the stream of consciousness/meaningless lyrics and Bradford’s whining voice – are absent. This is a set of instrumental hues and textures and though I imagine (as that’s all I can do, currently) it marries up well to the movie’s images the album is arranged with a drift and flow all of its own.
Cox no doubt knows a thing or two about being an outsider, feeling alienated, and that is surely among the themes explored in a documentary that looks at the invention of the teenager and the development of youth culture across the generations since the early 20th Century – but wherever this music has come from he’s done a wonderful job.
It’s tranquil and joyous and strange and unsettling, it’s lush and softly, slightly oscillating and it feels like a daydream soundtrack whenever I listen to it. Well, that’s memories and nostalgia right there. Being a teenager seems a strange dream now – just as it did then.